Meet Team South Africa: The Road To Special Olympics 2019


From 14 March to 21 March 2019, Abu Dhabi will host competition in 24 disciplines of sport. Breaking a personal record, Team South Africa will see more than 100 of our very best special needs athletes representing the country in the 2019 Special Olympics.

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Special Olympics South Africa, proudly advanced a team of 66 athletes during the 2018 Special Olympics South Africa National Summer Games. These games took place over a three-day period, with the first being the opening ceremony at Wits Education campus in Johannesburg. The team selected during these games will set off to represent South Africa in March at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in AbuDhabi

Two days of fierce competition in athletics, equestrian, aquatics, golf, football, futsal, bocce and table tennis saw the advancement of the 66 athletes from Northern Cape, Freestate, Western Cape,Kwazulu Natal, North west, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

The Special Olympics South Africa National team will be gunning to replicate the same excellence as the 2015 Special Olympics National Summer Games team who returned victorious with 61 Medals from Los Angeles.

With over one million people with an intellectual disability in South Africa, these 70 athletes and many other will compete to the best of their ability to show the country and the rest of the world that they should be recognised for their abilities rather than their disabilities.

The team that will be competing in AbuDhabi will be made up of 70 athletes, 4 open water swimmers are still yet to compete as we await the competition dates.

About The Abu Dhabi Games (AD2019)

From 8-22 March, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will welcome 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 170 nations as they participate in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports.

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. It will be the largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa. The spectacular Opening Ceremony on March 14 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics competition in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people with disabilities, and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.

By Zanele Ngwenya

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